How To Be A Healthy Caregiver 

D. Rachel James, LISW

Whether we do it out of love, obligation, or duty – being a caregiver is demanding.

The number one priority is you. If you’re not good, you may not be good for anyone else. Take care of yourself first. Get plenty of rest and make regular time for yourself. Eat well and make sure it’s a healthy diet. To manage stress levels, take regular time-outs for me-time. Don’t hesitate to see what resources may be available such as respite care, home health care, or adult day care by contacting your local department on aging.

 

When is it time to have a conversation with yourself?

  • Missing physician appointments for yourself
  • Ignoring your own health problems
  • Not eating a healthy diet
  • Overusing tobacco and alcohol when stressed
  • Giving up exercise habits
  • Losing sleep
  • Losing connections with friends
  • Holding in feelings of anger and frustration 
  • Outbursts           
  • Feeling sad, down, depressed or hopeless
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in things that used to give you pleasure
  • Feeling resentful toward the older adult in your care
  • Feeling that people ask more of you than they should
  • Feeling like caregiving has affected family relationships in a negative way
  • Feeling annoyed by other family members who don’t help and criticize your care
  • Feeling upset about your situation

 

Benefits of Professional Help:

  • It may help to talk about your caregiving roles and responsibilities
  • Clergy and therapists are skilled at creating a safe confidential environment for the discussion of difficult topics
  • Family therapists are very good at identifying people’s unique strengths and helping them contribute to caregiving in ways that are comfortable for them
  • Support groups at local churches, hospitals, and nursing homes may help to understand what you are going through
  • Consulting with clergy or a family therapist can result in a practical and workable plan for caregiving
  • Workable arrangements can reflect a plan for the involvement of many family members, so one family member is not overburdened to the point where the quality of care suffers or the health of the caregiver is jeopardized
  • A professional can help you realize when being a caregiver is just too much.

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